The Sheik (Chapter 2, page 1 of 35)


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Chapter 2

The promised send-off had been enthusiastic. The arrangements for the
trip had been perfect; there had been no hitch anywhere. The guide,
Mustafa Ali, appeared capable and efficient, effacing himself when not
wanted and replying with courteous dignity when spoken to. The day had
been full of interest, and the long, hot ride had for Diana been the
height of physical enjoyment. They had reached the oasis where the
first night was to be passed an hour before, and found the camp already
established, tents pitched, and everything so ordered that Sir Aubrey
could find nothing to criticise; even Stephens, his servant, who had
travelled with him since Diana was a baby, and who was as critical as
his master on the subject of camps, had no fault to find.

Diana glanced about her little travelling tent with complete content.
It was much smaller than the ones to which she had always been
accustomed, ridiculously so compared with the large one she had had in
India the previous year, with its separate bath--and dressing-rooms.
Servants, too, had swarmed in India. Here service promised to be
inadequate, but it had been her whim on this tour to dispense with the
elaborate arrangements that Sir Aubrey cultivated and to try
comparative roughing it. The narrow camp cot, the tin bath, the little
folding table and her two suit-cases seemed to take up all the
available space. But she laughed at the inconvenience, though she had
drenched her bed with splashing, and the soap had found its way into
the toe of one of her long boots. She had changed from her riding
clothes into a dress of clinging jade-green silk, swinging short above
her slender ankles, the neck cut low, revealing the gleaming white of
her soft, girlish bosom. She came out of the tent and stood a moment
exchanging an amused smile with Stephens, who was hovering near
dubiously, one eye on her and the other on his master. She was late,
and Sir Aubrey liked his meals punctually. The baronet was lounging in
one deck-chair with his feet on another.

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